Youth Farm: Cabbage and Potatoes
As the weather returns and we glide through our average last frost date, the early greens continue to grow into beautiful specimens. In preparation of the season to come, many other plants besides the stunning chinese cabbage have made their way into the ground as of late.
To contrast the slow rhythm of onion planting, our latest achievement has been planting some 500 linear feet of potatoes. In comparision to onion planting, potatoes are a breeze. We start by cutting the potatoes into chunks that have between 2-3 eyes. Potatoes eyes are those small dimples, that under the right conditions will begin to sprout. These “potato seeds” are then left to dry out a bit, so as to create a skin over the cuts. Potatoes (and really most seeds) have the potential to root in the soil, during typical cool, moist spring weather. This is usually not a problem in our climate, although it is spring time in Montana we are talking about.
Interestingly enough, potatoes are not actually roots as they are often refered to, but instead modified stems known as tubers. When we put pieces of a tuber, a.k.a potatoes into the ground we are planting genetic replicas of the parent plant. In theory a farmer can easily save a portion of their potato crop to be replanted in the spring, although disease concerns are real, so most people opt to plant certified disease free potatoes. Seed potatoes are grown and monitered for disease, allowing us to plant crops that are disease free or at least have less of a chance of getting diseases. That said, the potatoes are as interesting as the next crop. And they are in the ground.